Walking through the store yesterday I saw a stand of Valentines Day cards. They made me think how lucky I am to have a special person to share my life with. I am not sure how I would have been able to get through the death of Christian without Sam by my side. It made me think of all the single parents who grieve alone. What a lonely place that must be at times. I then began to think about my Nan. This is her in the picture. Isn’t she beautiful? Her name is Lyndal and she is my Dad’s mother. I knew her for 16 years. I wish she had of lived longer. I wish she had have been alive when Christian died. Maybe then she would have felt that she could finally break her own silence on the grief she had to endure alone throughout her mothering life.
When my Nan gave birth for the first time she sustained an injury to her uterus which meant that she could only carry any future babies to around 28 weeks. My Dad was born at 28 weeks on July 4th 1954. The midwives placed him into a shoebox and handed him to my Nan. They told her to take him home, keep him warm and give him lots of love as he would not live long. The same thing happened with my Aunty. They both survived. Some would consider them miracles, but we all know that all babies are miracles, it doesn’t matter whether they are born alive or not.
When Christian died my Aunty spoke of my Nan. She told me that Nan had experienced the stillbirth of 3 babies. She also suffered multiple miscarriages along with the loss of twins at around 15 weeks. I was floored. Why had nobody told me about this. How did I not know about these babies? Why was this not spoken about?
My Nan was left to grieve her babies alone for quite some time as my granddad was taken as a prisoner of war in Burma for 4 long years in the WWII. I can’t even imagine how excruciating that time must have been for my Nan and Granddad. When my granddad finally returned from the war he was a different man. War changes everyone. Everything. They stayed together because of their loyalty to each other, but it was not a relationship filled with love. My Nan grieved for her children and my Granddad was haunted by the war and the horrific events that he witnessed.
I cannot imagine having to grieve in a time where dead babies were an unspeakable subject. My Nan never spoke a word of them. Oh how that breaks my heart.
I remember a day towards the end of my Nan’s life. I sat at her feet as she braided my hair. She spoke to me about how I should always show my mother how appreciated and loved she is. She told me that she prayed that I would never suffer as mother and that I would never know the pain that some mothers have to endure. At the time I really did not understand what she was talking about but now it makes perfect sense to me.
My Nan has haunted me since her death. Not in a scary way. From the minute that she died I know she has been with me. She isn’t my angel but more of a spirit guide. I think she must have met my babies before I did. She knew I would have to endure a mother’s grief. She inspires me to speak aloud. She stands with me every time I speak about the babies who couldn’t stay to grow with us here on Earth. And so our relationship continues on a spiritual level.
Today I am thinking of all of the parents in the world who are or were made to keep silent on their love for their babies and children who died. Thankfully our world is beginning to see that loving and honouring dead babies is not something that should be hidden away and not spoken about. These babies are not an unspeakable subject. They are human beings and their stories deserve to be told.
Do you have someone in your family who was made to grieve in silence? Tell their story and speak for them. It is never too late. Not even in death.